During the Christmas holidays, 51 students from the Sixth Form were challenged to cover the equivalent distance of the perimeter of the old Exmoor Forest.
The students were encouraged to make it a personal challenge and come up with different ways of covering the distance of 38 miles. They rose brilliantly to the occasion and didn’t let the unpredictable winter weather get in the way of completing their miles.
Some examples include Felicity Hallsworth and Hetty Holden completing it on indoor rowers, Sammy Pratt cycling from Taunton School to home, Dan Edwards and Rupert Dean who did a walking and mountain biking adventure combination and Miles and Tom Leah completed the distance as a run/walk along the coast. They have been inventive as well, with Rosie Norman plotting her routes so they showed the number 38 (finishing on the beach for sunrise of course!) and Rose Harvey channeled her inner Bear Grylls by hosting her own ‘World’s Toughest Race’ with a 22 mile bike ride, 1 mile sea swim, 4 mile paddle board and then 15 mile coastal walk.
Students got their families involved as well, with them often joining the students on parts of their walks. And these were genuine challenges, quite apart from weather considerations, some made sure it was hard work, for example Tom Yap and Maxime Bell carried rucksacks of 20kg (and made their walk really count as they picked up litter along the way), and Tom McConnell completed the full 38 miles of walking in a single day along the Jurassic Coast, taking 12 hours! Some lucky adventurers even had snow on their travels; Verity Winsor and Seb Dean had to cope with all of the seasons thrown at them on their bike ride.
Caro Wedgwood, Head of Biology at Taunton School and a member of the Exmoor Search and Rescue Team, says, “I am so incredibly proud of our pupils who have embraced this challenge and the astonishing amount of money they have raised. Seeing them get out and about in their local areas, using their navigational skills to plan, getting some exercise in and completing challenges has been really quite remarkable – few of us would want to sea swim in December or walk 20 miles with a pack on in a day! It is the true Taunton School spirit to get behind their local community and help support others.
She added, “Exmoor Search and Rescue is operational in both rural and urban areas, locating and treating lost and vulnerable people in all weathers and terrain. Hopefully our pupils’ time on the hills has inspired a few to become Mountain Rescue team members one day!”
The running costs for the Exmoor Mountain Rescue Team are around £25,000 every year as they require specialist equipment and medical supplies. They are currently fundraising to replace their Incident Control Vehicle at a cost of £75,000.